The Nicosia research of a42 published as a report/summary in Turkish; YENİMİMAR Turkish architecture magazine,p.10, December,no 68, 2008
Cyprus – in between.
“The paradox of borders is that they divide at the same time that they provide sites of contact.” (Yiannis Papadakis, 2006)
We are six students from the Master program on Architecture and Urban research based at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nüernberg . This study program participated in the period between nov. 03Rd to nov. 11th 2008 in a excursion to Cyprus which was a participation in two international workshops: Liminal Zones and incm008/CY workshops.
The island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea located is divided in a Greek-Cypriote and a Turkish-Cypriote area since 1974. The dividing line runs across the capital Nicosia, there are five transition points. The UN-Buffer zone, existing since the 1970s, assures peace between both clash parties. In the divided capital two workshops took place. The anacrusis event in the Greek Cypriote part of the city was the seminar Liminal Zones Cyprus 2008, organised by the University of Cyprus und Goldsmiths College, London. In terms of roundtables, questions of Liminal Zones in context with the Cyprus-conflict and its spatial effects have been discussed together with experts from south and north Nicosia. In the course of this considerations downtown Nicosia was discovered in proximate area of the UN Buffer zone, both in the south and in the north district. The second international event, incm008/CY, in the north section, a workshop organised by student network EASA (European Architecture Students Assembly), was engaged in architectural practice and spatial politics in the area of the buffer zone .
Spaces Tangent To The Zone - The Dead Ends are not dead.
a42.org arranged a local thematically-oriented study. Via film the UN-Buffer zonés progress on greek- and turkish-zypriotes side was researched. As a main cognition can be appointed, that the initially illustrated two-dimensionality of the zone in reality has an unimagined and very strong effect on the three-dimensional space, which is located right between the inhabited urban space and the buffer. A remarkable spatial zone, directly adjoined to the buffer zone, is really existing and active. A livelily, accessible space is in no relation to the simple, abstract borderline on the map: Rarely the buffer zone is recognised as a clear, continuous border. Entirely exerted the zone is exceptionally in the form of artificially cut streets, the Dead Ends, which act as sort of windows into the zone. Only punctual the watcher gets insights in the proper restricted area. This is an artificial territory, encapsulated of all surrounding urban context, deserted, inanimately, demilitarized. The space, which used to be here was completely discharged. Ruins in a kind of vacuum were left behind. A Dead Zone. The adjoined Dead Ends are impasses, half streets, which used to run constantly through the city. Today they are leading into a void. The future is uncertainly, just as the respectively other district of the city, beyond the buffer zone. By the strict disruption in the street there is however emerging an unexpected, new spatiality. These areas contain a new function: Playing zones for children are emerging, as well as areas without traffic, storage areas and yards. Altogether this can be seen as an extended housing space of the residents. The separation of the two ethnic groups works unexceptionally, anyhow. The intervisibility to the other side is interrupted; the opposite side is factually not visible.
Spaces In The Zone - Abandoned Areas
The dividing line of the capital is interrupted by two transitions. The first transition, at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace Hotel, extends over a longer section of the buffer zone. The visitor can cross this one only by foot. The physical construction of the checkpoints on both sides speaks for its self. The border crossing on the Greek Cypriote side is built as a temporary construction of comparable humble dimension. Whereas the Turkish-Cypriote checkpoint is a large, two-storied, non-transient building. Furthermore, since the third of April 2008 the Ledra Street (formerly separated for decades) in downtown Nicosia is passable for citizens and tourists via a border crossing, including passport- a visa checkup. Clearly noticeable is the abrupt changeover, which takes place in the run of only one single street.
Since the abandoned space of the buffer zone exists, many ruins of houses emerged in that. In the past efficient architecture was disengaged of all functions. The utilisation- and function system of the buildings got nullified. In the present these structures only exist in form of empty shells. For an indefinite period of time this architecture is being in a comatose, uncertain condition. The real enemy of the built structure is no longer the martial destruction; there are no outer interventions of human beings, no abrasions, no utilizations, no contact to the urban context. Only the factor time remains a continuous parameter. In some individual cases the former function of the architecture is yet permitted today. For instance the Goethe Institut at Ledra Palace Checkpoint can remain as a Facility for German Language and Culture.
In opposition to this the Nicosia International Airport was transferred into a useless, misplaced object, simply because of its position into the restricted area. It is now an airport without a port and air traffic. The air sovereignty is no longer a human issue; it is transferred to the birds, which have occupied the whole space.
Above Nicosia’s surface there are many borders, in form of walls, languages, cultures and religions. But the city is already reunified in another level. Like a kind of mesh the common used wastewater system holds the city together. A subterraneous, liquid commonness.
Written by a42.org
(Barbara Geralis, Tamara Härty, Sarah Retsch, Matthias Spielvogel, Florian Thein, Philipp Strom)
pictures © a42.org